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So, for the last week or so, I have had a little visitor in my apartment: a member of the Mus genus.  In short, a mouse.

He was small, perhaps no longer than my thumb (not including tail).  He had dark, brown fur, and tiny, tiny feet.  At first, I knew I was hearing noises from the darkest recesses of my apartment: under the base board heating, behind some unpacked boxes, behind and underneath furniture.  My first concern was that it was a rat.  (It's interesting that the worst-case scenario is what leapt to my mind).

One day last week, as I was sitting on my couch, I caught movement on the floor out of the corner of my eye, and I looked down at it.  The creature wasn't really moving that fast, and seemed to stop and contemplate me.  We both sat there staring at each other for the briefest of eternities, sizing each other up.  Finally deciding that I was a threat, he ran underneath my couch. 

The next day, again sitting on my couch, I saw him head for the kitchen.  I got up and ran towards the kitchen.  I didn't want to hurt him, but I wanted to see him, first of all (mostly to see if it was the same mouse), and secondly to scare him away.  Yeah, that didn't work out so well.

I started working out in my mind plans to get rid of this mouse. Some were mighty plans that would make Wile E. Coyote proud.  And some were stupid plans that would make Tom the Cat cringe.  One of the stupidest involved chasing the mouse around the apartment with a skillet in the hopes of squashing him.  Had I learned nothing from watching cartoons?  It never worked out well for the cat, and it won't end well for me, either.

I even, at a certain point, began thinking about him as a roommate in a strange way.  I could come up with no way to catch or kill him, so I figured I might as well get used to him.

Then came the event that broke the camel's back, as it were.  I was again sitting on my couch (the couch is so comfy) and I was working on my computer doing I forget what.  Suddenly, I felt something on my foot.  I looked down, and the mouse was sitting on my foot.  I screamed like a little girl... Err, I mean "vocalized my displeasure like a manly man"... and shook him off my foot.  The mouse went flying about two feet, landed on the floor and scurried under the couch.

That was it.  I'd had enough.  I'm bigger than this mouse, I'm smarter than this mouse, and if he was going to continue living with me, he'd better start ponying up his share of the fucking rent, not to mention the food budget.

I got serious about formulating a plan.  I decided that I didn't really want to harm the mouse, and that if I could do it humanely, I would be all for it. This just about killed the frying pan idea (the part of my brain that thought it would be funny sighed sadly at that), but the traditional mouse trap was out as well.  I mean, it wasn't really the mouse's fault that he was in my apartment.  I'm not even really sure he had put that much thought into it.  My apartment is warm, it has food (all right, I suck at house cleaning), and it had a guy living in it that most of the time is rather oblivious to what's going on in his own home.

Money was another consideration. I didn't have the money for the more humane traps (capture and release).  That means that I had to come up with another solution.

Well, an opportunity presented itself.  I was hankering for a crunchy, salty snack over the weekend, and decided that of my choices, Chex Mix was probably the healthiest (choosing a "healthy" snack food is like trying to choose whether to commit seppuku with a silver dirk or a brazen broadsword, especially if your only choices are what's available at your local convenience store).  I brought the bag back and inspiration hit.  I emptied the bag of the whole Chex (no, I didn't eat them... OK, maybe I did), leaving some crumbs in the bottom of the bag.  I left the mouth of the bag wide open and placed it on the floor.  This was this past Sunday night. 

By Tuesday, I had forgotten about my little "trap." I was sitting on my couch--my comfy couch--watching SportsCenter.  I heard rustling from somewhere, but had a hard time tracking it down.  Sometimes, it seemed to be coming from under the couch, sometimes from under the coffee table, sometimes from in front of the coffee table.  Then, as I was trying to track it down, I saw the mylar Chex Mix bag move at the same time as I heard the rustling noise.  I realized that the mouse had somehow managed to flip the bag over and had gotten trapped in a small pocket in the bottom of the bag.  Seizing the opportunity, I grabbed the opened end of the of the bag, and rolled the end of it closed, making sure to leave him a nice pocket of air.

Note that I hadn't seen the mouse actually in the bag.  I had to check to make sure that the mouse was in there.  Holding the bag aloft in my left hand, I gingerly felt the inside with my right to see if he was actually in there.  My fingers landed on something warm and a little squishy.  I "vocalized my manly displeasure" (I definitely did not scream like a girl).  While I jerked my right hand away, my left hand was apparently much cooler ("Dude... what's your problem?") and luckily maintained a death grip on the open end of the bag.  Oh, yeah, I definitely had a mouse in my Chex Mix bag.

Okay, now what do I do with it?  Dammit, I hadn't thought that far ahead.  I hadn't planned on being successful.  Now that I was, I wasn't prepared for it.  I put a binder clip on the open end and laid it on the coffee table as I considered the mouse's fate.  I actually still briefly considered beating it to death in the bag and throwing it away; it just seemed too much like punishment to something for following its nature.  He chewed a little hole in the mylar bag, and poked his nose and one eye through the hole, looking at me as if to say, "Please, Mr. Man, don't kill me.  Let me go."

I didn't have the heart to kill him.  That meant that I had to release him.  But where?  I should mention that this whole thing was complicated by two factors: one, that I had an attack of gout on Monday that nearly incapacitated me; two, it had begun to snow.  If I released him, would I have been only trading death by violence with death by exposure?  And if I released him, it would have to be somewhere that I could easily get to and nearby, but far enough away that he couldn't simply scurry back into my apartment the instant I turned around.  And I had to do it quickly, because the hole he was chewing was getting larger; he would get away and I wasn't sure I would get another chance.

This whole period of contemplation took nearly two hours.  I threw on my coat, hat, gloves, and cane (remember: the gout) and grabbed the bag, carefully folding it in half to cover up the hole.  As I walked out into the night, it was very quiet.  Not even the neighbor's dog barked at me.  I shuffled as best I could up the parking lot and across the street to where the dumpster was.  While I had brought my hat, I had forgotten to put it on, so the icy cold snowflakes landed softly on my head of hair.  I could feel the mouse shuffling around in his little mylar bag.  Did he sense what was coming?  I tried to make sure that our relationship was clear to him.  "There's only room in this apartment for one of us.  This is my apartment, you Rodentia.  Finally, I'll be rid of you, once and for all, you stupid mouse.  Oh, and you still owe me money for the food you ate... where do you want me to send the bill?"  I'm sure my neighbors loved seeing the crazy man talking to a Chex Mix bag.

My original plan was to dump him out into the dumpster, but as I neared it, I realized that it was a delayed death sentence.  Dumpsters are made to eventually be dumped, and worse, he would have no way to escape it once it was happening.  I could imagine his panic, not fully understanding what was happening, as the garbage lifted the dumpster up and began pouring it into its container where it would surely be crushed and would surely die.

I just couldn't do that, either.  Living out in the cold would be no picnic, but his chances of survival were much better than they would be in the dumpster.  Unfortunately, the day after Christmas was one of the biggest snowstorms in the area in many years, and there were still snowbanks everywhere.  I can't get away from them.  Some of them were still around five feet tall. 

I found a relatively small snow bank near the dumpster, and dumped my little friend out onto it.  He hit the snowbank, and paused for a second.  He glanced up at me, as if he was shocked that he had survived the experience.  He also seemed to be saying "thank you" for letting him live.  After a few seconds, he scurried off behind the dumpster.

Suddenly, I felt a great sadness come over me.  Had I saved him from one death, only to condemn him with another?  It was fucking cold out, and the snow was coming down more heavily every minute, or so it seemed.  I had considered him a pet, almost, though an ill-behaved one (I'm afraid to look at some of my boxes to see if he chewed through them and their contents), and he probably saw me as "That Big, Scary Man Who Chases Me Around."

Two days later, and I'm still punishing myself over it.  But, really, what choice did I have?  I can't have a rodent (no matter how cute and relatively harmless) running around loose in my apartment.  I'm pretty sure that my security deposit doesn't cover "Rodentia Infestations."

Sigh.

Comments

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tomd1969
Dec. 11th, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
Thanks! I don't get to just write. I wish I could a job somehow just writing full time.
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